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Roger Perlmutter is to take the helm of Merck's research and development branch, the Wall Street Journal reports. Previously, Perlmutter was the executive vice president of research and development at Amgen until his retirement about a year ago and prior to joining Amgen he was worked in basic research at Merck. "By hiring Dr. Perlmutter, Merck is tapping into his experience in the field of biotechnology-style drugs, in which Amgen was a pioneer," the Journal notes. While at Amgen, Perlmutter oversaw the FDA approval of a number of drugs.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to return to Merck and to lead MRL," Perlmutter says. Perlmutter is to replace Peter Kim, who is retiring in August. The Journal adds that under Kim, Merck garnered the approval of a number of vaccines and drug, but has recently been beset by setbacks.